SC rejects govt request to bar PTI’s long march

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The Supreme Court (SC) has rejected the request of the federal government to issue an interim order against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) long march to Islamabad while giving the government a free-hand to control law and order situation.

A contempt petition was filed by the federal government over violation of the court orders in PTI’s May 25 march. The petition said that PTI was ordered to hold its Azadi March between H-9 and G-9, but Imran and his supporters had moved towards D-Chowk due to which the government was prompted to call army for security of Red Zone.

The government was seeking an order to restrain Imran Khan from creating a law and order situation during his intended long march.

The petition was heard by a five-member larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

AGP Ashtar Ausaf told the court that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) was assured of compliance of its orders in the petition against Imran Khan’s long march. But despite guarantees, he had given a call to his party workers to D-Chowk.

AGP also said that according to orders of the court, the roads leading to Srinagar Highway were kept open and workers’ arrests was also stopped.

He also said that the reports of concerned agencies were submitted to the SC and he had not received those. He said that it was found in reports that PTI had violated assurances given to the court.

Ashtar Ausaf said that policemen from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir entered the capital during the march.

CJP Bandial, following the provision of the copies of reports, asked the AGP to analyze them. Ausaf asked the court to issue an interim order. Upon CJP’s inquiry he replied that Imran was calling the march on Islamabad as jihad and was inciting people through his speeches. He also said that it was the responsibility of state to protect fundamental rights of citizens.

CJP Bandial said that according to AGP, the court orders had been violated, further saying that being the executive authority, the government has the liberty to take preventive measures. He also noted that 13 people were injured, public property was damaged and Imran Khan went back next morning.

CJP rejected government’s plea of an interim order and also noted that there was no crowd and the court should be requested to stop them when crowd gathers.

Further hearing was adjourned till October 26 while the CJP gave a free-hand to the government to control the law and order situation.